Australia Post has announced that it will continue to ship perishable goods across the country and work collaboratively to find solutions to support small business food producers with the support of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson.
This follows a strong disapproval – from the food and beverage industry – of Australia Post’s decision to stop delivering perishable food items from 30 June.
An industry working forum, to be co-chaired by Mr Billson, has now been formed to resolve cross-state regulatory issues as part of Australia Post’s commitment to support producers shipping perishable goods across the country.
The forum will also have representatives from industry bodies, the small business sector and producers to find possible solutions to the complex regulatory requirements for moving these goods through the delivery network.
Australia Post Acting Group CEO & MD Rodney Boys says this is an “important and complex landscape” that is best approached by working closely with customers, industry bodies and regulators.
“We recognise the original date for ceasing perishable transport through our network would cause significant disruption to small businesses, many who have experienced significant growth in e-commerce sales during Covid-19,” he says.
“Through this new forum, we will better understand what our customer capabilities and needs are and work hand-in-hand with regulators to determine, where changes may be required.
“I am so pleased Bruce Billson has agreed to co-chair this forum with Australia Post to develop a long-term, sustainable solution to support this growing e-commerce industry.”
A ‘huge’ relief for small businesses
Mr Billson says that he looks forward to working closely with Australia Post and all relevant stakeholders to ensure small businesses can continue to count on these essential delivery services.
“Small business food producers, especially those in regional areas, are breathing a huge sigh of relief today that they can continue doing what they do best – growing their business – with confidence that their goods will be delivered by Australia Post,” he says.
“Australia Post has positioned itself as the delivery partner to small businesses and family enterprises, particularly to those businesses that moved to selling their products online as a result of the Covid crisis.
“This partnership has benefited both sides of the relationship and consumers.
“It was not right to unilaterally declare an end to vital delivery services to the detriment of these small businesses and the customers who depend on them. Australia Post is doing the right thing for its small business customers by reversing this decision.
“Now is the time to be working together to identify what the problems are and to find solutions to make a pathway forward.
“Let’s roll up our sleeves so that we can achieve a much better outcome for e-commerce powered small businesses who rely on Australia Post to fulfil their orders.”
The next steps
Australia Post will continue to ship perishable goods as this forum continues to convene, with the first meeting between Australia Post and the Ombudsman to occur Tuesday next week.
The broader industry group will then meet in May, with a view to hold regular sessions with key regulatory bodies, government agencies and e-commerce experts.